Friday, March 14, 2014


Peggy Noonan today:
A great question for the future: Will Mr. Putin ever respect an American president again? He knows our political situation, knows we're a 50-50 nation, would assume we're blocked from consensus barring unusual circumstances such as a direct attack. He's not impressed by our culture or our economy. He might also make inferences from America's demographic shifts. If we are a more non-European nation than we were 30 years ago, might he think us less likely to be engaged by -- and enraged by -- unfortunate dramas playing out in Europe?
Right -- we might have the guts as a nation to stand up to that guy if we weren't overrun with all those black and brown people.

I'm Italian. Noonan's Irish. Following this logic, it's the ancestry of people like us that explains why America in the past several decades has been so eager to launch wars in ... um ... Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, and Korea.



Elsewhere in the column, Noonan cites this as one of the "things that for me capture the moment and our trajectory":
the title of Tom Wolfe's most recent book, "Back to Blood." He was referring to tribalism, ethnicity, the enduring call of clan. But also just blood. Another enduring and even re-emergent force in human affairs.
James Wood wrote a vicious takedown of Wolfe in The New Yorker when that novel came out. Here's what Wood wrote about the title:
The phrase "back to blood" is not new in Wolfe's work, either. It is characteristic shorthand for his conservative paranoia, and occurs early in "The Bonfire of the Vanities." The white mayor of New York is heckled by an angry crowd in Harlem. "Hymie!" and "Goldberg!" are tossed at him. He catches the eye of a sympathetic African-American woman, whose look seems to say, "What can I do?" The mayor tells himself, "They'll go after black people like her next. They'll be happy to do it! She knows that. But the good people are intimidated! They don't dare do a thing! Back to blood! Them and us!" Surveying the mayhem, the mayor imagines a soliloquy, a Wolfean trumpet blast: "Come down from your swell co-ops, you general partners and merger lawyers! It's the Third World down there! Puerto Ricans, West Indians, Haitians, Dominicans, Cubans, Colombians, Hondurans, Koreans, Chinese, Thais, Vietnamese, Ecuadorians, Panamanians, Filipinos, Albanians, Senegalese, and Afro-Americans! Go visit the frontier, you gutless wonders!"
Is this what Noonan has in mind? It would be irresponsible not to speculate.


Victor said...

I'm sure Nooner's family and friends are disappointed that yet another drug and alcohol intervention, failed.

Unknown said...

"A great question for the future: Will Mr. Putin ever respect an American president again? He knows our political situation, knows we're a 50-50 nation ..."

Well then, my suggestion is for Noonan and her 50 percent to stop actively hating America and rooting for it to fail.

Problem solved!

M. Bouffant said...

I hear there are a lot of Canadians of Ukrainian descent. Perhaps Mme. Noonan can get Canada to rattle some sabres at Putin.

Philo Vaihinger said...

So, the left's new dogma is that the political Anglophilia of the American ruling classes that dominated the history of the 20th Century had nothing to do with their own ancestry?

Nor the enduring political Anglophilia of the American right?

It is one thing to be annoyed by the enduring political relevance of race and ethnicity and another to refuse to see it, or its possible consequences.

Steve M. said...

If you're coming here for "the left's new dogma," I think you've come to the wrong place. Nevertheless, you're right -- I should have referenced the ethnicity of our pre-Obama presidents rather than Noonan's or my own. The point still stands: if the reason we won't help Ukraine now is that we're increasingly less European, then why did all those WASP Best-and-Brightest types rush to the aid of the non-communists in Korea and Vietnam?